With membership increasing by 22.8 percent in the Jacksonville area, Jacksonville’s public television station WSEC avoided a downgrade this year in PBS affiliation. WSEC’s parent company, Network Knowledge, which also operates community-licensed television stations WQEC in Quincy and WMEC in Macomb, reported an overall increase in contributing households of 21.7 percent throughout central and western Illinois.
Thanks to a surge in contributions from viewers, WSEC announced that the station will be able to continue as a full-service PBS station until the end of this fiscal year – but strives for increased membership to keep the threat of a downgrade to 25 percent of the national program service at bay. If WSEC was to fall down to a station with limited access to PBS programming, various favorites such as NOVA, Antiques Roadshow, Frontline and Masterpiece would be at risk.
But it’s not just Dr. Gruebel and his staff that work toward increased membership goals—there are several Jacksonville area Board members who also work tirelessly to help support the station. Familiar names include Ken Bradbury, President of Franklin Bank, Dr. Keith Lape, a retired Vice President of MacMurray College in Jacksonville, Esther Viles, Manager at Mediacom in Jacksonville, Bill Sleeman, Principal at Benton & Associates in Jacksonville, and Ron Tendick, the former Mayor of Jacksonville.
Past board members also laid the groundwork for WSEC’s popularity. People such as Ginny Fanning, past Executive Director of Jacksonville’s Chamber of Commerce, Tom McKula, retired hospital administrator, Dr. Susan Weller, dentist and active leader of the arts community, and Teri Ware, realtor all helped support the station and its fundraising goals.
As public television is largely viewer-supported, pledges are needed on a year-round basis. These pledges come in the form of monthly, quarterly or annual gifts—and every gift small or large is greatly appreciated. In the months ahead, programs such as Masterpiece Classic’s Season 4 of Downton Abbey, Season 10 of the Emmy-nominated Illinois Stories, PBS Newshour, Charlie Rose, and a new Celtic Woman concert are all slotted to bring education and the arts to viewers in west central Illinois—but only with continued support from viewers.
Interaction with local viewers is one of the ways WSEC is learning to connect with its viewers and use feedback from the communities it serves to improve both its national and local program service. Viewers are encouraged to watch the local programs they miss on WSEC’s YouTube channel at YouTube.com/NetworkKnowledge.
Coming up on Friday, January 5th, WSEC will be hosting a Downton Abbey Season 4 Preview event at the Historic Pasfield House Inn in Springfield to show a free pre-screening of the premiere.
“We hope Jacksonville residents will attend this event, meet some of the staff and get a peak at Season IV, which already played in England to a larger audience than it enjoyed for Seasons I, II and III,” said Dr. Gruebel.
To learn more about how you can get involved with WSEC as a volunteer, donor, or advocate, visit their website at www.wsec.tv, or call 217-483-7887.